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Post-processing a manuscript in the Library’s Digital Scan Center, which conforms to FADGI guidance.”
Post-processing a manuscript in the Library’s Digital Scan Center, which conforms to FADGI guidance.

3rd Edition of FADGI Still Image Digitization Guidelines Finalized

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Today’s guest post is from Hana Beckerle, a Digital Imaging Specialist in the Digitization Services Section at the Library of Congress.

The Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) Still Image Working Group has finalized the Third Edition of its influential Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials. The Working Group published a draft version of the Guidelines on the FADGI website in June 2022 for public review and comment.

The working group received dozens of comments and questions about the draft version during the public comment period. After the comment period closed in August 2022, the working group spent several months on additional review and revision to improve the Third Edition in response to the public reception of the draft. The final version was published on May 10, 2023.

This latest edition expands upon, and revises, content included in prior editions of the Guidelines published in 2010 and 2016. The Guidelines include information on the four components of a FADGI-conforming imaging program: technical imaging parameters, best practices, digital image conformance evaluation, and professional staff (new to this edition of the Guidelines).

Also included are specifications for the FADGI star rating system, which are criteria for evaluating digital image quality for a variety of original object types, such as rare and special materials, general collections, transmissive materials such as film and x-ray, manuscripts, artwork, and more. For each evaluation category, the Guidelines specify the minimum or range of values an image must meet in order to be considered FADGI 4-star (highest quality), 3-star, 2-star, or 1-star (lowest quality). The Guidelines also specify the master file format, color space, and other file requirements for each material category and star level. See below for an example.

Bound volume digitization guidelines from F.A.D.G.I
An example of the tables from the 3rd Edition of the guidelines that lay out digitization best practices and image quality evaluation parameters for different content types (partial table shown here – for the full tables please see the Guidelines.

Certain evaluation parameters are still considered informational, and are not essential to validate an image’s FADGI star-level conformance. These evaluation parameters are still evolving and are shaded lighter than the required metrics in the tables for each collection object type in Chapter 3 of the Guidelines.

This edition also includes the new Modern Textual Records materials category (Section 3.5), with digitization guidance and evaluation criteria for digital images of modern documents. This category has been added to provide guidance to federal agencies digitizing permanent records according to new regulations set forth by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA M-19-21 and M-23-07).

Another addition is the FADGI Code of Ethics for the Still Image Working Group. This is a “set of professional practices to guide imaging practitioners to create faithful reproductions of historic records held in the public trust” (p. iv).

Other changes from previous editions include a document-specific glossary that compliments the online FADGI glossary, information on the latest imaging technologies and best practices, updates to example digitization project workflows, additional language on color management, and more.

To supplement the final version, the Still Image Working Group published a Change Log that lists revisions made since the draft version was published in June 2022. Also available on the FADGI website is a log of public comments on the draft received through formal channels, with responses to each and any resulting revisions to the document listed.

The Guidelines are free for any digitization professional or cultural heritage organization to reference, and FADGI has developed free software tools to support their implementation. While FADGI began as a US Federal agencies initiative, the Guidelines are influential throughout the field of cultural heritage digitization. The Guidelines have hundreds of downloads each month from site visitors around the globe, and many organizations reference the Guidelines and the star rating criteria for their digitization projects and programs. The Library’s Digital Scan Center is FADGI-conforming, and the Library’s digitization programs follow FADGI guidance for still image and audio-visual collection materials.

The revision team includes Tom Rieger, Manager of the Digitization Services Section (DSS), and Kristin A. Phelps, Digitization Manager for the Office of Copyright Records, as well as subject matter experts Michael Horsley of NARA, and Don Williams and Roger Triplett of Image Science Associates. Tanya Brown, Sarah Mitrani, Rachel Frederick, Patrick Breen, Matthew Breitbart, and Hana Beckerle of DSS also served as reviewers and editors.

The Still Image Working Group welcomes questions about the Guidelines, or cultural heritage imaging in general, at [email protected].

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